August Heat

Beth Lordan, Author HarperCollins Publishers $16.95 (234p) ISBN 978-0-06-016094-4
In this precisely rendered, lyrical first novel, nature is a dominant character, and human behavior is as rhythmic and inevitable as the change of seasons. At the beginning, a 60-ish widow, Rachel Wilcox, returns to her childhood home in a small rural community; at the end, a storm and flash flood sweep the town. Both events disturb the equilibrium of the townspeople. Rachel plans to sell the old family house and place her mad brother, Jacob, in a sanitarium near her city home. But she underestimates the old house's effect on Jacob and his mythic importance to the community. Jacob alone sees below life's surface to profound truths. Lordan's cadenced prose carries the reader through the story as a river carries a raft, inexorably and suspensefully. ``All up and down River Street at just this moment, people peer at one another secretly and believe what they see, but, like the density of the heat and the days-old thrum of heat thunder, their vision is a deep distortion, outlines and textures false.'' Though Lordan romanticizes the essential cruelty of madness, her remarkably accomplished prose, laced with precise sensory and pastoral details, makes this novel both compelling and convincing. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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